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Healthcare Content Marketing PERSONAS: An Interview with Dr. Russell Faust

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« Content Marketing in Healthcare: Finding Content (part 3) | Main | The Benefits of Leveraging Social Media in Healthcare »

Overcome the 5 Barriers to Engaging Your Doctors on Social Media

So, your hospital or practice has recognized that you live in a digital world. You have committed to developing a Social Media Content Marketing Program.

You recognize that your patient community “lives” on Facebook, or Pinterest, or some other platform in that digital world.

You recognize that you cannot simply broadcast your message as you did with your traditional marketing campaigns. You understand that your community is looking for information. They are looking for a CONVERSATION.  

You even understand that your physicians must be part of that conversation in order to have any credibility at all. Congratulations. You are farther ahead than most healthcare organizations.

Yet every time you try to engage your physicians in the process they put up resistance. HUGE resistance. Barriers.

Last February, Anicca Media conducted an informal poll to ask,

“Why aren’t your physicians involved in your social media program?”

Here is what we found:

The Top 5 Barriers to Docs on Social Media 

  1. HIPAA
  2. Time
  3. How?
  4. Reputation
  5. Metrics

Because these are pretty universal barriers to getting your docs involved in your Social Media Content Marketing Program, let’s address them one at a time …


1)  Concern Over HIPAA Violations

First, let’s be clear: HIPAA regulations govern ALL personal health information (PHI), not only the information on social platforms. And to be honest, there are many (MANY) more HIPAA violations that occur in the hospitals and clinics – in elevators, clinic hallways, cafeteria, surgery waiting rooms, and other areas where healthcare personnel talk about patient issues – than have ever occurred on social media platforms.

The SOLUTION relies on education. Your organization must have a clearly articulated Social Media Policy that is consistent with HIPAA. Click here to download our FREE Guide to Developing Your Social Media Policy Manual.

Once you have developed that Social Media Policy, you must communicate it to everyone associated with your hospital or practice. Post it at the nurse’s station. Post it online. Post it in the clinics.

Give regular in-service sessions. Be certain that you have made a good-faith effort to educate everyone in your organization about what the limits are, what is expected of them, what is acceptable, what is unacceptable, and what the potential ramifications are for violations.

Next, be certain to include any contractors and vendors who spend time in your practice or hospital. HIPAA considers these people to be “covered entities” and says that you are liable for their handling of PHI about your patients. Make certain that you have provided them with a copy of your Social Media Policy Manual, and include them in your in-service educational sessions.


2)  Don’t Have Time  

Of course, there are many demands on a physician’s time. Placing additional time-demands on them won’t get you very far toward engaging them in your Social Media Program.

But let me ask you this: did that keep you from developing a traditional marketing campaign? Did you let that prevent you from sending out flyers promoting that new bariatric surgeon or orthopedic program? Remember when you did that? You included a photo of the bariatric surgeon, and maybe a short bio?

Well … there is nothing preventing you from doing the same for your Social Media Content Marketing Program. In fact, there are many tactics that you can (and should) take to leverage minimal time-investment by your physicians to achieve maximal engagement in your Content Marketing Program. Click here to download our FREE eBook on How to Get Your Docs Involved, Social Media First Aid for the solution.


3)  Don’t Know How

This one always makes me laugh (a little). To compare again to your Traditional Marketing experience, not knowing how certainly didn’t stop you, did it? That is, when a hospital or practice wants to market itself using traditional marketing tactics, they simply hire someone who does know how. It’s the same with a Social Media Content Marketing Program.

The other option is to Learn How.

Even better, a combination of the two: hire someone who knows how, and assign an internal champion to learn what the expert knows. It’s not rocket surgery. Anicca Media can help with both: contact us to learn about our Social Media Content Marketing COACHING Program.


4)  Concerns About Negative Reputation  

Most physicians have had a negative initial experience with their online reputation. That is, virtually ALL physicians have been ‘dinged’ on a doc-rating website. There’s good reason for that. Studies show us that the people most likely to take the time to provide feedback are those who are angered over their experience with a company (or a hospital or clinic). That is, the people who leave ratings on doc-rating sites often did so because they were angered over some perceived slight by the receptionist; or the nurse; or they were made to wait too long; then the doc was too hurried.

Regardless, it is the physician’s reputation on the doc-rating site that takes the hit. So most docs have a negative introduction to the digital world. 

For some reason, some docs believe that if they simply ignore the digital world it will go away. If they ignore social media they won’t have a reputation or “brand” in the digital world.

Here’s a shock for anyone thinking that: pay attention … your brand in the digital world exists already. With or without you. Like it or not.

If you have not developed your brand, it is already out there without you. Think of it as your Zombie Brand, wandering the digital world with a life of its own.

The SOLUTION is to get involved in that brand. Find your Zombie Brand. Breathe new life into it, inhabit it, make it your own. The solution to a negative reputation is to overpower it with a strong, pervasive positive brand.


5)  Don’t Know How to Tell if Our Program is Successful  

Another “don’t know how.”

Ironically, despite all the whining about difficulties calculating the ROI of social media marketing, tracking results in the digital world is, in fact, much easier than doing so with traditional marketing tactics.

Steps to take include:

  • Set up “listening posts” for your brand in the digital world
  • Install “analytics” to monitor your website(s), as well as your other platforms in social media – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.
  • Use “landing pages” as the incoming gateways from those social media accounts to track traffic
  • Go old-fashioned: simply ask your new patients, on your intake forms, how they got to you.

Yes, it will take some coordinated effort to set these metrics in place, but you will be able to gauge your success of your digital program. Need help, give us a holler.


There. Barriers overcome. Didn’t say it would be easy, just that it is possible.

And let’s face it, necessary. If you want to truly connect with your patient community, you must join the digital world. The rewards are worth your effort. The return on investment is extraordinary by traditional marketing standards. Don’t know how to calculate the ROI of your Social Media Program, take a look at these articles or videos

Again, we’re here to help you achieve success. Give a holler for help, or if you have questions.

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